Charles: Future of humanity may depend on move to sustainable farming practices

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The Prince of Wales has highlighted claims that the world only has "enough fertility for 60 harvests" as he gave a speech marking the 70th Anniversary of the Soil Association.

Speaking as the patron of the Soil Association, which promotes healthy and sustainable food and farming, Charles said the future of humanity may depend on a mainstream transition to some of the farming practices advocated by the organisation.

He told an audience gathered at the Royal Horticultural Halls in central London: "It is becoming ever clearer that the very future of humanity may depend to a very large extent on a mainstream transition to more sustainable farming practices, based of course on organic principles.

"Yet despite the extraordinary efforts of the Soil Association, including the work of the individuals and organisations in this room and of many others throughout the world, in terms of impact on the planet and public health, things have actually got worse, not better, with the majority of farmland still in so-called conventional production, and the organic market still small and relatively fragile."

Charles has been an advocate of organic farming for many decades and runs his Duchy Home farm in Gloucestershire on the principles.

The heir to the throne went on to say: "For instance, the impact of chemical fertilisers and pesticides on the soil biome, mirrored in our own stomachs as a result of excessive use of antibiotics, has been so devastating that it is now being said that we only have enough fertility left for 60 harvests."

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment.

Over the past 70 years it has pioneered and promoted organic standards that aim to deliver the best animal welfare available on the market as well as 50% more biodiversity and healthy, productive soils.

Through its Food for Life programme the charity also hopes to transform the meals served in schools, hospitals and workplaces.

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